The last event of the Orma 2004 circuit will be playing a decisive role in the final outcome for the rankings in the 60-foot Open championship. As things stand, after 5 events - the Grand Prix de La Trinité, The Transat, Québec-Saint Malo, and the Grand Prix de Fécamp and Calvi - Géant, Groupama II and Sergio Tacchini are all in with a chance. The Grand Prix de Marseille is therefore going to be extremely important. Outsiders, including Gitana 11, may upset the apple cart. Above all else, Gitana 11 is aiming to win the last event and confirm the Gitana Team's excellent progress throughout the 2004 season, setting aside momentarily the battle for a top three place in the Championship, as her withdrawal for gear failure in the Québec-Saint Malo race put paid to any chance of finishing in the top three. After her third place in Fécamp and her win in Calvi, Gitana 11 is looking like one of the favourites of this Grand Prix, as are Sergio Tacchini and Groupama II, emphasising the quality of the work put in by Gitana Team's sailing and shore teams, thanks to the support of Baron Benjamin de Rothschild, who is very close to his Team. Italian yachtsman Giovanni Soldini (TIM-Projetto Italia) will not be taking part as the damage sustained in his collision in Calvi with Sodebo means the boat has to go back into the shed for substantial repairs to the starboard float. Nine trimarans will therefore be lining up on the start of the first round on Friday.
In the meantime, on Wednesday and Thursday (today and tomorrow) all of the boats will be taking part in free training sessions, unfortunately in light air. As for the weather, it looks as though the wind will be conspicuous by its absence until the end of the week. Current forecast is for thermal breezes of 10-15 knots, with almost no Mistral to speak of. Enough though to allow for some excellent racing and requiring higher levels of concentration on the part of the crew when it comes to manoeuvres, but nothing compared to the fantastic geysers of seaspray we saw last year in the Grand Prix de Marseille 2003.
But as everybody knows, the Mediterranean is highly unpredictable. A lot can change between then and now in the three-day Grand Prix event over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.